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The Cherry Bomb

There are few bars more renowned for their strong cheap drinks and loud music, than the Cherry Bomb. Nestled in a small shopping center next to a laundromat and in an inconspicuous residential neighborhood of Banker's Hill, lies this graceland of punk rock. Current owners, Sondra Feuillet and Josh Bilben, snatched up the place when the Board Room closed it’s doors in 2000. They gave the small room a makeover with some regal rock’n’roll flare.

The walls are deep red and there is stainless steel scrap art and siding. The bar is backed with a dungeonesque black brick wall, complete with gargoyle statues. There are two black couches showing some wear, but still supple in the back corner. The lamp hanging over the $.25 pool table is upholstered and complete with hanging dingle berries. Red light permeates the nooks and crannies of this joint giving it a sedate and yet, dangerous vibe. Perhaps my favorite parts are the twin industrial sized turbine fans hanging from the ceiling. They must help out on a hot day, or are great for trying out the aerodynamics of some of the post modern coifs that beg to be so hip these days.

There is only Budweiser on draft coming from two handles, but for $3.00 you can have a 23 ounce glass full of the brew. There are also bottle selections if Bud just isn’t your thing. A decent liquor selection with a good range of whiskies. The house specialty drink is a double shot of Jack Daniels for $5.00. I was hoping for some good gin, much to the bartender’s chagrin, but none being present and this environment being more of a whiskey bar, anyway, I opted for the Jim Beam and received quite a lot of it in my small glass. No complaints here. But if you like drinks on the softer side, you might sneak in a flask of your favorite soda product as they will probably laugh out loud if you ask for more mixer.

The jukebox has a winning selection of classic punk and modern rock with a few local bands interspersed. This was where I first listened to “Trailer Trash” by Modest Mouse and developed my own fascination for them. As well as the solitary pool table, there is a foosball table which was going unused this night, but makes for good sport. I thought I might try out my marksmanship on the Big Buck Hunter Pro, but I didn’t know how to shoot a shotgun while holding a loaded whiskey glass. Apparently there are two guns so you can joyfully slaughter elk at your convenience with a loved one.

As far as my research tells me, the bar was named after a Runaways song of the same name. That definitely fits with the atmosphere here. I could almost see Joan Jett getting off of Josh’s motorcycle, which is parked outside when he is working, hauling her dirty laundry bags. There used to be live music here on the weekends, but it was a bit of an eardrum destroyer in this small, bricked room. Still, it somehow fit and I kind of miss it.

This is absolutely a destination bar as there is nothing interesting in the vicinity. If you plan on having a few here, I would recommend a designated driver or a taxi cab, as “a few” translates to five or six in a regular bar. It is nice to have such an ode to rock style in the neighborhood. I think that this is the kind of place that generates regulars and hasn’t been caught up in some scenester crowd as very few of them seem to even know of it’s existence. Fine by me.


Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Phone: 619-544-1173
  • Name: Cherry Bomb
  • Address: 2237 1st Avenue